Idoru: Gibson’s astonishing glimpse of virtual reality’s future

William Gibson — creator of Neuromancer, among other gripping sci-fi novels — has arguably delved even further into the latent possibilities, or what Gilles Deleuze called virtualities, of the information revolution, in his quotidian dimension-surpassing novel, Idoru (Penguin 1996), one of the so-called Bridge trilogy. So much so that Peter Popham in the Independent commented…

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The problem with the Rémy Martin man

Mayihlome Tshwete is the face of Rémy Martin. The billboard is plastered arrogantly in Rosebank (you can’t miss it if you’re driving down Bolton Road). The kind of masculinity advertised by the campaign — “You only get one life. Live them” — features young men such as Tshwete as the “product” of the slash generation….

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Sex is complex: Gender, HIV and Charlie Sheen’s disclosure

By Pierre Brouard So Charlie Sheen is in trouble again — this time because he has been forced to disclose his HIV status to be one step ahead of the tabloids, and to cut off the money supply to extortionists who had him over a barrel. The competing narratives around his disclosure have been fascinating:…

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Homo naledi, Piltdown and a lesson in African prehistory

Professor Lee Berger and his team of scientists caused a huge stir when they unveiled the skeletal remains of not one, but at least 15 members of a previously unknown hominin species they’d discovered at the Cradle of Mankind. While the team had made no claim to have found the missing link between man and…

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Dear Facebook, colour me unimpressed

On Saturday night I logged onto Facebook and noticed a curious pattern. Several of my friends (and people that Facebook tells me are my friends) had begun changing their profile pictures to a filtered version corresponding with France’s national flag colours: “Show your support for the people of Paris by temporarily updating your profile picture…

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How the #HelloChallenge brought Mzansi closer

Does the internet have the potential to unite people? Or does it merely alienate and isolate its users? It’s a debate that continues to rage on as internet usage increases and more people become netizens. A social media prank that has captured the interest of South Africans proves that the former is possible. It began…

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Facebook helps restore our humanity (at times)

I am 52 and come from a generation where one can be bewildered by, and dismissive of, the proliferation of instantly accessible information (not knowledge, there are important differences) online. This is often in my hand or in my pocket in the form of my Android. However, I use the social media to my advantage,…

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#FeesMustFall: A movement of shares, likes, tweets and posts

In 2011 Chilean students began a protest movement to challenge the education system of their country. Known as the “Chilean Winter”, their dissatisfaction poured onto social media platforms. The students leveraged these sites to great effect to mobilise fellow academics, draw international support and express their own narratives which were ignored by the media. Fast-forward…

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The lie that society is founded on

In Living in the End Times (London: Verso, 2010) that inimitable Slovenian philosopher cum psychoanalytical theorist Slavoj Žižek performs a dazzling analysis of Christopher Nolan’s genealogical Batman film The Dark Knight (2008). What his analysis brings to light is something that, Žižek reminds one, John Ford also explored cinematically years ago in Fort Apache (1948)…

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The illusions of Facebook

At the recent South African Communication Association conference at the Afda campus in Cape Town I was astonished at the level of naïveté about the use of Facebook on the part of academics and students alike. On the one hand there were those who regard it as a mere tool for communicating with friends and…

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